With school holidays in full swing and many of us enjoying a well-deserved break, it's not surprising a lot of people find themselves thinking this might be the perfect year for a more permanent sea change.

Coastal and regional Australia, towns and cities away from the big city, have a lot to offer residents. Many have excellent hospitals with recognised specialists, great schools, strong job markets, and a plethora of weekend activities, including celebrated restaurants, to keep the whole family busy.

Though prices of regional real estate in NSW have been on the rise during the boom of the last five years, if you're smart, these areas still offer some very competitive pricing when it comes to homes and property. Family homes can be much more affordable, and town houses, apartments and even small farms or land offer opportunities you will never come across in the big city.

Thinking of a sea change? Try some of these regional hot spots:

Wollongong: coastal convenience

Within an hour-and-a-half drive from Sydney and boasting beautiful coastal views and the lifestyle to match, Wollongong has certainly experienced the property price boom in the last few years — but there are still bargains to be had!

Wollongong is in the middle of a notable period of change and growth, with developers flocking to the area to expand living options, with town houses, high-rise apartments and fresh, new suburban communities popping up throughout the coastal suburbs. While modern, clean and often with unparalleled views or facilities just around the corner, newer properties are certainly attracting city prices, with apartments on the much sought-after Cliff road, or those with similar views, now adorned with multi-million dollar-price tags. Expect to spend a million at least, or around $3 million for those truly breath-taking locations.

If a quick million isn't couch-change for you, venture closer to Port Kembla or a little further back from the water (don't worry, nowhere is very far!) and you'll easily find a three bedroom, free-standing home with a competitive price tag (around $400,000). Just a quick (and direct!) train from the centre of Sydney, with hospitals, schools, universities, shopping and beaches within minutes, why not take a look at Wollongong?

Newcastle: demand on the rise

Up the coast, in the opposite direction from Sydney, a couple of hours drive and you will find yourself in the centre of town in Newcastle. With a bustling population of almost 550,000, its own university, beaches and views, Newcastle rivals Wollongong for top spot for a sea change in New South Wales.

Like Wollongong and Sydney, Newcastle wasn't spared the effects of the real estate boom, with prices having risen slightly over the last few years. The good news is that demand in the area hasn't quite reached the same level as the rest of New South Wales, so now is still a great time to buy! As transport becomes even more effective and people yearn for a more balanced life, Newcastle will become a key buying market for many.

Newcastle's property market is a combination of everything from free-standing homes to high-rise apartment blocks, and fortunately, has the price range to match! The average unit cost in Newcastle is around $640,000 (thanks realestate.com.au!), but you can expect to find units as low as $300,000 if you take the time to look around.

With the economy, employment and the market all steady after some fluctuation, Newcastle might present just the opportunity you are looking for!

Tamworth: real estate NSW's home of country comfort

What review of regional real estate in NSW would be complete without mention of the home of the golden guitar?

Heading away from the coast and inland to the centre of country music in Australia, Tamworth is a little smaller and a little sleepier, but offers the opportunity for the quiet and relaxed country lifestyle you may have dreamed of, with access to schools, hospitals and sweeping landscape views.

About halfway between Sydney and the Queensland border, Tamworth offers the full gamut of weather, and houses built to fit the climate. No high-rises or cluttered suburban developments here, Tamworth is an oversized country town, with a lot to offer (other than great music!).

If you're looking to stretch out those dollars, the average house in Tamworth will call for just under $500,000, and lower demand than the cities and coastal regions means you have more chance of getting your hands on that country cottage you've been hoping for. If half a million is still a little steep for you, a quick look around reveals the odd, six figure 'fixer-upper' with a '1' to kick off the price tag!

Wagga Wagga: peace and tranquility

Refocusing your sights south, towards the Victorian border, Wagga Wagga is a thriving regional centre with a population around the same size as Tamworth.

Featuring fertile farmland and known for its cereal crops, Wagga also boasts strong schools and healthcare options and a steady job market in social health and support fields.

When looking at real estate, you can expect to spend between $300,000 and $400,000 on a house, down to $200,000 on a unit. Property is a little more sought after in the area, with a house on under 30 acres able to make as much as $300,000.

Goulburn: perfect location, perfect pace

Tucked away very conveniently between Canberra and Sydney is Australia's first inland city, Goulburn. Within daily driving range of Australia's capital city, Canberra, it offers proximity to high-paying public service jobs, combined with the quiet and simplicity of life in a big country town.

With a hospital (and only an hour to specialists) and several public and private primary and high schools, it is a thriving agricultural area, predominantly known for crops like potatoes and fat lambs, and a chief exporter of renowned sports people!

Goulburn is also the home of affordable real estate, with an average house price of $399,000 and units at just $330,000. Rental return is solid at around $350 per week on a three bedroom home. Notably, Goulburn is actually reported to have higher demand than most of the other locations reviewed in this article.

With homes for those who want to make the move and great weekenders regularly added to the market, Goulburn has a range of notable local restaurants and cuisines, pubs and beautiful gardens. It is an easy two hour drive back to Sydney, or an hour to Canberra, and is situated in the perfect spot for country drives, weekends at the dam or day trip down the coast.

Sale Ezy regularly features listings in Goulburn and surrounding areas, such as Crookwell; check out your next home or property here.

Have we missed a great regional town perfect for a lifestyle change? Let us know!